Rheumatology - Overview

Rheumatology is the branch/specialty of Medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Rheumatic or musculo-skeletal diseases- in simple terms, “Arthritis”. Rheumatic Diseases comprise a heterogeneous group of disorders of the connective tissue, joints and bones in which musculo-skeletal pain and stiffness are the prominent symptoms. Rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages and ethnic groups and are the commonest cause of physical impairment in the community. The most common symptom of rheumatic disease, is joint pain; and if it is due to an inflammatory cause,then the pain may be associated with joint swelling and stiffness and perhaps other systemic complaints. However, joint pain need not necessarily imply a rheumatic disease; therefore any patient with joint symptoms, would need proper evaluation to determine the cause.The full range of rheumatological disorders is seen in India, with the commonest condition being Osteoarthritis; however, the most common inflammatory condition is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which very much mirrors the worldwide incidence of these conditions. The conditions/disorders that comprise rheumatic diseases include:
  • All Inflammatory joint diseases
  • All Connective tissue disorders including myositis and vasculitis
  • Crystal induced arthritis (gout)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Low Back Pain
  • 'Soft Tissue' rheumatism
  • Osteoporosis
  • Juvenile (Paediatric) arthritis